A Lamb for the Lost

The Gospel Sync | #23 | John 1:19–34

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Welcome Back! Today, we’ll be looking at the gospels of John and illuminating more of Jesus’ identity and purpose.

So let’s dive in.

(Click here to get a copy of the Gospel Sync document) 

The Gospel – John 1:19–34

This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed and did not deny, but openly declared, “I am not the Christ.” “Then who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“I am a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees and they asked him, “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered, “I baptize with water, but among you stands One you do not know. He is the One who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

All this happened at Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, “A man who comes after me who has a higher rank than me because He existed before me. I did not recognize Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and resting on Him. I did not recognize Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

Some Thoughts 

In John 1:29, John the Baptist proclaims, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” This statement is a powerful affirmation of Jesus’ identity and purpose, as the long-awaited Messiah. John understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and symbols, particularly those related to the sacrificial lamb. A Lamb for the lost.

Throughout the Old Testament, the sacrificial lamb is a recurring symbol of atonement for sin. In Genesis, we see God killing animals and making coverings for Adam and Eve’s nakedness, foreshadowing the need for a sacrifice to cover their sin. Later, in Exodus, the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood on the doorposts of their homes, so that the angel of death would pass over them. This sacrifice was a symbol of their faith in God’s provision for their salvation.

In Isaiah 53, the prophet speaks of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of the people, likening him to a lamb that was led to the slaughter. This passage is a direct prophecy of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, where he bore the sins of all humanity.

John recognized Jesus and His sacrificial death as the only way to salvation. But how does this relate to us as disciple makers?

As disciple makers, it’s essential that we understand the significance of this truth and how it relates to our work. First and foremost, we must remind ourselves and those we disciple that salvation is achieved by Jesus on the cross, not through our good works. He is the Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world. While obedience to God’s commands is essential for a Christian’s growth and maturity, it is not what saves us. We cannot earn our way into heaven through our actions; salvation is a free gift from God.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of “works-based salvation” when teaching obedience to God’s commands. We may inadvertently give the impression that our actions are what make us worthy of God’s love and grace. However, this is not the case. Our obedience to God’s commands should stem from gratitude for our salvation and love for Him.

As disciple makers, we must be careful not to lead our followers to jump through hoops to get into heaven. We should teach them to obey God’s commands because they love Him, not to earn His favor. This can be a delicate balance, but it’s crucial to get it right.

 My Story

Last Saturday in our Online Zoom Church (can you do church online?) we had a beautiful picture of disciples living in both grace and discipline. We laughed, listened, and cried together. It was rich! What made it so good, you ask? Well, we started by checking in and seeing how everyone was doing for about the first 30 minutes. Then we answered the question: “What are you getting out of the Word and how are you applying it?” For the next 40 minutes people shared what they were hearing from God through their personal reading, study, and memorization. I need to point out that everyone is knee deep in the Bible and developed this act of obedience over the years. They are convinced that this daily habit is essential to their growth in Christ. Our time ended with proclamations and prayers of us thanking the Father for Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and that without that, we would all be lost. Do you see the subtle but vital reality the church is walking in? We clearly see the grace of God as our only hope to a right relationship with Him but our time in the Word of God being a crucial discipline to know and love Him better. No one was thinking, “I read my Bible so God loves me more. I practiced this important spiritual discipline and now Jesus will let me into heaven.” No, they are in full realization of what the Apostle Paul wrote the Colossian church: 

Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard it and truly understood the grace of God (Colossians 1.5-6) 

Our Action Plan

So what are some ideas on how to apply the truth of the gospel? Salvation comes from Christ’s work on the cross. It is by grace alone. Here’s some suggestions;

  • Do an in depth Bible study on the “gospel” with those you are discipling.
  • Listen carefully to yourself and those you mentor. Are we thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing to merit salvation.
  • Spend an extended time praising God for the work He did to save you and reflect on His love, mercy, and grace.

As disciple makers it can be easy to jump the tracks and start putting our hope in what we do versus what He did. Let’s keep reminding ourselves and others that Jesus is the Lamb Who takes away sins not our good deeds or spiritual disciplines.

Until next time, keep making disciples of Jesus!

Author: Chuck & Deb

Chuck & Deb love Jesus!

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